I had an image in my mind Of somewhere good and pure and clear, A scent of Eden, hope enshrined In heaven’s glow. I begged for strength and will to journey there. But God said, “No.” So I retreated, searched the stars, And settled a more modest aim— A place where wounds might bloom to scars— Nor small nor great. At last the hour for leaving shyly came. But God said, “Wait.” Then down through maelstrom I must gasp, And scrape each tortured crag and fell, Where sneering sinners bray and rasp And curses bless. “Will home,” I asked, “now prove a butcher’s hell?” But God said, “Yes.” Sometimes the Lord with happiness delights; Sometimes He sends despair and endless nights. Sometimes the Lord a killer will condemn; Sometimes, like Abram, killer He makes him. Sometimes with gold His children He adorns, Sometimes with simple gown, Or crown of thorns.
Believers and unbelievers alike ought to recall from Scripture how often it is true that the Lord works through nature rather than against it. (CS Lewis makes this point in his book Miracles.) Without wishing to be flippant, it’s almost as if the Lord surfs nature rather than slicing it or else making no contact with it.
Lewis points out that even in the feedings of the five- and four-thousand—in some ways the greatest miracles in history—the miracle was not to countermand nature so much as to accelerate it. Jesus didn’t pluck fish from the air; he received ordinary fish, passed hand-to-hand, that had been caught with a line and hook and bait from a mucky lake, and simply increased its mass. Somebody made—skillfully or not, burning or undercooking or baking just right—the loaves he multiplied. Jesus did not wave his arms in a magical gesture that caused purple light to shoot across the crowd, into their gaping mouths, filling their stomachs with magical sustenance. He took what was already present in nature and expanded it more rapidly than it otherwise might have. People chewed the miraculous fish with ordinary, sometimes broken, sometimes aching teeth. Those caught fish, had they been allowed to keep on swimming, might have multiplied into thousands of fish, sufficient to feed the crowd, in a few more generations; but that would have taken years. The wheat for the bread and the women’s labor to grind, mix, knead, and bake it could have fed the crowd in a few more years of harvests and long baking days. Jesus did in seconds what the natural process might have done more slowly. He didn’t contradict nature, he amplified it.Continue reading “When God Provides No Miracle”